Oy! I last posted more than a month ago. Sometimes Life just gets in the way of the things you love, but eventually you get time for them again as you work through what's coming at ya!
Israel served the LORD as long as Joshua lived. They also served him as long as the elders who lived longer than Joshua did. These elders had seen for themselves everything the LORD had done for Israel.
The people of Israel had brought Joseph's bones up from Egypt. They buried his bones at Shechem in the piece of land Jacob had bought... That piece of land became the share that belonged to Joseph's children after him.
Aaron's son Eleazar died. His body was buried at Gibeah in the hill country ... Gibeah had been given to Eleazar's son Phinehas.
Soooooo much history in and behind these verses. But here's my read of it, personal bias and filters well and truly on:
First. Israel honored great leaders and contributors in Joseph and Eleazar. (If you've read my post about Joseph's bones, I love the resolution here of that incomplete story: the great man is finally laid to rest!)
We live in a day of reformation in the church. As an older style of leadership dies away over the next 15-20 years, lets not adopt a position of "Good riddance!", but let's honor them. And not just honor them, but take their bones - their "presence" and legacy - with us into the future.
Our history is built on the acts of fallible human beings as well as those of an infallible God. I've written (and ranted) extensively about the abuses of power that many "christian" "leaders" have committed and continue to. Thank God that these men/women (though they often make the most noise and the biggest ripples) are in the minority as far as the clergy go. Most men and women serving God in formal pastoral and missional roles around the world (my own father included) are doing their best with pure motives; they carry on the tradition of centuries and we should treat/remember them with honor.
Second (and last). The people served the LORD as long as the Old Guard remained. We're not yet reading the next book of the Bible in this series of posts, so we can take some license and ask "So, did they stop once these leaders died off?" And so I ask us: Will we only passionately serve the LORD as long as these leaders are here or the current church structures remain?
I went out with a mate of mine to play pool last night; he's an "ex-pastor" like me. (When I write that it feels like I'm saying "ex-alcoholic" or something!) And we were asking the question, "As we deconstruct almost everything that "church" and "ministry" has come to mean over decades of our lives, what will we have left?"
As we believers in emerging churches or who are without-church-community continue to pave new paths, take new territory, explore new ideas, will we practically forget the holiness of God, the core of Truth that (rather than our subjective worldview) our world (Earth!) is built upon? Or will we indeed consolidate the gains of two thousand years of disciples and many more millenia of God's servants, and continue to build the Kingdom they all lived and died for?
Have I been a little preachy here? Are my sentences getting as long and convoluted as those in CS Lewis' Narnia books? Do you agree with my thoughts? Disagree? I welcome all comments (as long as they're clean and constructive). :)
If this devotion was helpful, please feel free to visit the other posts in the series by clicking Famous Last Words. And don't forget to visit the sister post to this, written by Yehudi01 who joins me in this project, writing from the Jewish perspective.